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This Clever Seat Belt For Your Desk Chair Will Force You To Sit Up Straight In The Office

The inventive strap uses the body’s own tension to keep your spine in a healthy position.

When Katherine Krug had to shut down the startup she was working on in San Francisco, she was left with more than regret for an idea that didn’t work out. She also had terrible back pain.

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“It was just the embodiment of my heart and soul and everything I was working towards, and it didn’t work,” she says. “I was completely depleted of energy, and, because I was hunched over my laptop 12 to 14 hours a day, I developed this sciatica pain,” she says.

That was when Krug started to think about supporting her lower back while seated. She tinkered with some materials and came up with what became BetterBack: a padded harness that straps around the pelvis and is held in place from the knees.

After the earlier failure, the new project has turned out to be redemptive. Only two weeks into a Kickstarter campaign, Krug has obliterated her funding target, raising more than 40 times the original goal. And she still has two weeks to go.

“When I showed it to my friends, I found out they’d been having back problems too. There was all these people who came out the closet,” she says. “I decided to put it on Kickstarter and see if it was just them or whether this is something that could help people. Obviously with what we’ve seen on Kickstarter, that question has been answered.”

It may not have helped people exactly yet. But BetterBack is different, particularly in how the back-pad is supported with the rest of the body. Straps go around the knees, so you’re locked into position when sitting down. Krug compares the pads to something in a backpack; the straps are like seat-belts.

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“You’re really using your body’s own tension to get this effect. Most back products just focus on your lumbar spine. This focuses on the pelvis [or the area between your abdomen and thighs]. By bracing the knees and the back, it stays in a neutral position, so your spine is able to stay in its natural state,” she says.

That doesn’t mean sitting for long periods magically becomes a good idea. It doesn’t. Krug herself also has a standing desk and rotates between that and BetterBack. “The goal isn’t to have someone sit all day without moving. The key is still to move, but if you have to sit, you can sit properly,” she says.

Pre-order the product here for $49. Shipping starts in October.

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About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.

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